Electricity is an extremely common part of our lives, so much so to the point that we often take it for granted. However, electricity is dangerous, and mishandling or misusing it could result in some serious injuries, immense damage, or worse consequences. For that reason, safety should always be at the forefront of any good electrical system, and safety should constantly be reviewed and improved.
Believe it or not, the overwhelming majority of homes and businesses we see are safety-deficient in at least one way. If you want to avoid being deficient in the area of electrical safety, then this blog has a list of five important safety devices that you absolutely should have.
Ground-fault interrupters act as a sort of mini-breaker for an individual outlet. While circuit breakers control energy flow over an entire circuit, a ground-fault interrupter can shut off the power to a single outlet when it detects an overcurrent. This could prevent serious injury and potentially even save a life. That’s why we recommend having one of these systems installed everywhere water might be present. That means kitchen outlets, bathrooms, utility rooms, garages, and even outdoor outlets should all be GFI-equipped.
It’s easy to tell if you have a GFI outlet: if your outlet has two buttons on it, one labeled “test” and the other “reset,” then your outlet is GFI protected. You should also test these outlets regularly to ensure the GFI is still doing its job. Over time these mechanisms can wear out and no longer work properly, making them dangerous to continue to use around water.
Outdoor Outlet Covers
In addition to being protected by a GFI, all outdoor outlets need to be properly covered and protected form the elements. Almost everybody knows that mixing water and electricity is not a good idea, and outlet covers prevent this from accidentally happening. We recommend using bubble covers, as they allow you to plug in and use an outlet during inclement weather while keeping the outlet completely covered and properly protected from the potential of falling rain. The bubble cover completely covers the plug in the outlet as well as the outlet itself, while providing a hole that the wire can easily come out from to keep the cover shut tight.
Self-closing outlets are a tremendous invention for child safety. We all know kids are curious, and unfortunately every year many kids are injured or even killed when they stick something metal into an outlet to satisfy this curiosity. While we may try to teach our kids that this can be dangerous, some young children are simply incapable of understanding this. As a parent, you’d likely do anything to prevent this, and that’s exactly what these sliding covers can do.
These outlet covers have a thin piece of plastic with holes cut in the same pattern as a typical plug. However, each cover that is attached to a small spring that pushes it out of alignment. In order to plug anything into one of these covered outlets, you need to use two hands—one to slide the cover out of the way and the other to plug in your cord. Once plugged in, the prongs of the plug will hold the cover open safely. However, without something plugged in, the prong holes are completely covered and the outlet can’t accidentally be penetrated by something small and thin. For any family with young kids or even considering children, we cannot recommend these covers highly enough, particularly for outlets that are low to the ground where kids can reach them.
Properly Grounded Outlets
Finally, perhaps one of the single greatest safety advancements in electricity is the grounding circuit. A proper ground provides your electrical system with a safety valve that it can dump excessive current to in the event of a power surge. This prevents wires from melting, fires from starting, and plenty of other potential disasters. However, one of the biggest faults we see in some DIY electrical jobs is that people don’t actually hook up their ground lines properly! This makes your grounding about as useful as a flashlight with no batteries.
The best way to properly set up your grounding is to hook it into a grounding circuit that runs through your home. This protects all of your outlets that are hooked to it, giving you peace of mind and proper safety. However, we sadly see far too many outlets where this is ignored entirely, and instead the ground wire is either left hanging loose somewhere in your wall or it’s hooked to something like a nail stuck in your home’s frame. That’s why we recommend having all outlet services performed by a professional electrician to ensure the job is done right.Concerned about your electrical safety? Call the expert electricians from Lightning Bug Electric at (404) 471-3847 to schedule an inspection today!